It’s always been a dream of ours to own our own home, and honestly, I didn’t think it would happen so soon. And it’s not lost on me that none of this would have been possible if it weren’t for the support of our family and friends. But especially our realtor — Carlyn Costo.
We had started talking about buying a house more at the end of 2021 and beginning to think about a timeline, but pretty much decided that we would likely stay in the apartment another year. Then, fast forward to the first week of January and the fire alarm testing started again and the management continued to get worse. I literally sat in my car crying with Sampson because I was so over the fact that this was the third time in two weeks I had to round them up and sit for hours in the parking lot. And because of the fire scare we had in May of 2021, Gypsy was so traumatized that the hid under the dresser and I physically couldn’t get her out, so I had to leave her in there while they did the testing.
On three different days, for at least 2 hours at a time, with no communication ahead of time or expectation of when I could go back in, I had to sit in the car with Sampson and work while leaving Gypsy inside. I was over it. They had zero respect for the tenants and they charged an arm and a leg for rent as a ’luxury apartment’ and it was far from that.
So, that final day as I was crying out of stress and frustration I called Lucas and told him I could not doing this anymore and we had to leave. I didn’t know where or how, or even that we would be buying a house at that point, but something had to give. I immediately texted Carlyn, as she was a family friend and I’d already spoken with her briefly before to tell her when the time was right, she was our girl.
That weekend, January 15th, we met with Carlyn and she walked us through the entire process. This was something that was so foreign to me and I had no clue where to start. I won’t give away her secrets and all the amazing info she brings to the table (literally!), but she made sure to walk us through each step of the process and explain it all in a way I could understand.
Next thing you know, the next week we were going through those exact steps, getting approved for a home loan, and ironing out some details. One week later, and we started at looking at houses that Saturday. This was still during a time of high demand for houses in the area and we were totally expecting this to take a while and potentially be rejected on many listings. But, we had until the end of March to be out of the apartment and that gave us some wiggle room to not have to settle on a house for the sake of timing.
The first one we looked at together was too good to be true, and it was the first taste of reality of seeing the pictures and then being totally catfished by the listing. It was in Jasper, came with a good amount of acreage, and potentially to be able to build our dream house at the back of the lot on our own time. On our way up there we were prepared to make an offer immediately because those who we showed the listing to even said that it was a steal and they’d be surprised if it wasn’t under contract when we got there since it had just gone live that Thursday.
Luckily, my dad went with us to look at several houses to help us look for things we might not notice. My dad’s been in construction industry in some form since before I was born. Long story short, him and Lucas did one quick look inside and it was a hell no! Obviously, I was defeated because the pictures and listing made it out to be a rare find, but really it was a hack job across from the chicken houses. I started to second guess why we were even looking in Jasper and wanted to bring in our radius all together. As we stood outside the house, I was showing my dad the other houses we were going to look at that day and remembered another listing I saw in Jasper. I wasn’t too excited about it at first because it wasn’t on land, and I had convinced myself that the only way I was moving up here was if we were getting some acreage with it.
My dad took one look, saw the price, the location, and how long it had been on the market, and said ’You need to go look at that house Carly, like today.’ And the rest is history! Well, not exactly because the journey to get the house was just that — a journey. We left that house in Jasper and headed to Woodstock to view two more houses.
People say that when you find the one, you’ll know and I was sort of cynical about it considering I knew we weren’t going to find our dream house with the current market. The two houses we viewed later that day didn’t give me any good feelings and we left feeling defeated that nothing even seemed worth it, for more reason than one. I kept reminding myself that the one would come along and it would the right home, in the right place, at the right time.
The next day we woke up and headed to Jasper to meet Carlyn at the house. My dad came with us and when we were pulling in, someone was looking at the house, but just driving in and seeing it from the road I already had a feeling.
Once we pulled in and started walking to the front door, it started to hit me. Stepping onto the front porch and into the house was all it took. Unlike the other houses that we looked at, as we went from room to room, I saw us here — all of our things, our cats running around, the projects we would do, and more. It was so weird, like being on the outside looking in. We were set to look at another house soon after, but I had Carlyn cancel because I couldn’t bring myself to leave yet. We spent the next hour going over every inch of the house. We knew it was a big undertaking and there was a lot of work to be done, but I just couldn’t shake this picture in my mind. I saw us walking through the front door bringing our first child home one day. Like I said, it was so odd. I’d never had a feeling quite like this before — other than when Lucas and I started dating. And it hit me — I just knew; this was it. This was our house.
We left the house and headed to Acworth to look at another house. The entire way there all I could do was look at pictures and talk about the possibilities. We pulled up to the next house and it was an immediate no — I just didn’t get that gut feeling again. We walked through the house and while I tried so hard to not be biased, I couldn’t help it. All I wanted to do was go back to the house in Jasper.
That Sunday night we sat down and decided we wanted to put in an offer. My mom begged me to sleep on it a few nights, but we just couldn’t.
Our house had been on the market for over 100 days, which was unheard of during this time. We couldn’t really figure out exactly why, but there were a few things that stood out that may have been a reason. It was listed with OpenDoor (hard pass), there was a lot of work to be done inside and out, and they had been asking too much. I figured that those who came to look at saw the price and everything that would need to be done, not just a fun project to spruce things up, but some major work, and they decided it wasn’t worth it.
Had I been doing this without Lucas, and my dad wasn’t a contractor for so long, I would not have bought this house. So I can understand why so many people turned away. While I was all in on this house and spent every second thinking about it, I just couldn’t help but thinking the other shoe was going to drop at any moment.
We put in an offer on Monday and it was the longest wait of my life until we heard back on Wednesday. We went in way under the listing price, a 10-day due diligence, and didn’t wave inspections. They rejected our offer, which we were expecting, but countered with some pretty ridiculous terms.
At this point, we knew they were still desperate to get this house off their hands because they were losing money by the day. So, what did we do? Shorten the due diligence to 7 days and offered then $500 more than they paid for the house. And it worked!! I couldn’t believe it. We got the call that Thursday night as we were on the way to meet my brother and his fiancé at the beach for a long weekend.
The next day started the ultimate race of getting everything in and done before our due diligence was over. Our realtor, Carlyn, was a saving grace here — yet again. She had the inspector out the next day and went with him to make sure everything we had questions about was answered.
When our reports came back, there was some mold found in the basement based on levels in the test. And when we went to look at the house and bring my mom to see it for the first time, Lucas ended up finding mold and wood rot in the basement where it looks like the previous owners or the Open Door people tried to hide it by stuffing insulation up in the area. At this point, I was a mess because I thought for sure between Lucas and my mom they were going to be like absolutely not, walk away.
But thanks to my dad and one of Lucas’ bosses, they both said that this was a very small area that we could easily fix and it wasn’t compromising the air inside the main levels of the house. This was such a relief and just another instance where it truly felt like this house was truly meant to be ours because every roadblock that we hit always worked out in our favor.
So now came the tough part of negotiating with Open Door since there isn’t an actual person assigned to the house. It’s a general email and you’ve just got to cross your fingers and hope for the best. Carlyn was once again totally on top of it. She immediately reached out and did everything she could to get them on the phone, and of course, she was successful!
Now that we had notified them and hd documented evidence of mold in the home, they had 2 options — offer us compensation at closing for repairs or to decline to do anything, in which we would have backed out and then they would have been required by law to disclose that on the listing.
I’ll spare you the boring details, but after some back and forth, and a lot of research on my part — we were set to close! I couldn’t believe it. Now, the due diligence period was over and it was simply a waiting game for us to sign the papers and officially make it ours.
From the day we met with Carlyn, January 15th, to the day we closed, February 18th, it was a total of 35 days. We looked at a total of 7 houses — the 5th one being the one. We put in one offer, on one house, and we ended up getting it for $500 more than Open Door bought it for. Then it appraised 20% above what we paid for it. It was truly an whirlwind experience, and I realize that’s not the case for everyone. Especially for those who were house hunting during the insane boom of everyone looking to buy.
We spent the three weeks between our offer being accepted and closing on the house picking out paint colors, buying all new floors, ordering new appliances, and packing up our entire lives. We sat together on the couch every night looking at inspo and planning out exactly what we were going to tackle first. It’s a time that I will never forget.
Being able to buy my first house with the love of my life, and knowing we were going to be doing all of the renovations ourselves was such an unreal feeling. It’s still something that I think about every day and it reminds me of how lucky I am to have someone like Lucas that wants to make this house into a home for us and our future family. For every crazy idea I’ve had or question I didn’t know the answer to, he was there ready to tackle it.
This was the biggest moment of our lives so far, and I’m so thankful for our friends and family who supported us in so many ways to make this happen and race to get some work done before we had to move in. And lastly, our realtor — Carlyn. If you’re in the Metro Atlanta area, Carlyn Costo is your girl. She will find you ’the one’ and make sure you feel supported every step of the way.
Stay tuned for the next blog about what all we accomplished in the month that we had before we had to move in — it’s a doozy!